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Retention Because of Shyness?
Q: At my last parent-teacher conference, my son's kindergarten teacher suggested that my son repeat this year due to his shyness and fear of trying new things. What facts should I base my decision on? I don't want to send him on to first grade if he's truly not ready. But, I also feel that if he has been having problems, the teacher should have notified me and given suggestions for him to overcome his fears. What do you think?
A: Retention decisions should not be made quickly. Do not feel pressured to make the final decision on whether to have your son repeat kindergarten at this time. In deciding whether or not your son is ready for first grade, you will need to consider whether he is ready intellectually and physically as well as emotionally and socially. A visit to his kindergarten classroom should help - you'll see what the other children are doing and how your child interacts with them.
We rarely support retention and are even less enthused about holding children like your son back when it is suggested for non-academic reasons. Young children change so rapidly. Just because your son does not seem to be ready now in some areas for first grade doesn't mean he won't be ready in the fall. Your son has six months before the start of the next school year. Wait until then before you make your final decision.
Many young children are shy. The teacher should be trying to help him by letting him work both in small groups and one-on-one with an outgoing child. At the same time, you should invite a classmate with whom he feels friendly to play sessions at your home so he will begin to have classroom friends.
Do spend time now and this summer helping your son overcome his fear of trying new things. Ask his teacher about the tasks he is reluctant to do and show him ways to handle them. Teach him to break tasks down into manageable units so he will not be overwhelmed. This will give him confidence in his ability to do things and help to eliminate some of his fears.
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Peggy Gisler and Marge Eberts are experienced teachers who have more than 60 educational publications to their credit. They began writing books together in 1979. Careers for Bookworms was a Book-of-the-Month Club paperback selection, and Pancakes, Crackers, and Pizza received recognition from the Children's Reading Roundtable. Gisler and Eberts taught in classrooms from kindergarten through graduate school. Both have been supervisors at the Butler University Reading Center.